While many environmentalists are decrying the COP17 climate talks (# COP17FAIL: Climate Change is a One-Size-Fits-All Problem) as being imperfect, I see some real progress hidden in all that bureaucratese.
For MENA (Middle East and North Africa) nations, the best result of the Durban climate talks is the immediate continuation of the Kyoto Accord that binds nearly 40 industrial countries, that was in danger of being “termed out” when it expired in 2012. For the Kyoto Protocol countries, the Kyoto has been given a second commitment period (or a commuted death sentence!)
Along with that second commitment period, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) will continue as well.
This has been one of the most important drivers of renewable energy investment in the MENA region. Algeria, Morocco, and Egypt are among the most rapidly advancing nations in the world in adding renewables through the CDM.
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The CDM is an offsetting tool that is used to reduce global emissions with cap and trade: essentially polluters are fined and forced to invest those pollution fees in clean energy in emerging economies.
Enlarging renewable energy investments
Under the agreement at Durban, next, the CDM will be open to all countries needing to offset emissions, which greatly enlarges the potential funding for renewable projects worldwide, as well as beginning to familiarize the rest of the world with the nuts and bolts of the Kyoto Accord’s cap and trade mechanism. Only 40 industrialized nations are party to the Kyoto Protocol. Opening its CDM will enlarge opportunities globally for renewable investment.
By 2015, China will be funding renewables to offset emissions under its own cap and trade scheme. The continuity of the CDM is a godsend for real climate action, because it serves as a model, and bringing the whole world in is a big step forward.
“This is highly significant because the Kyoto Protocol’s accounting rules, mechanisms and markets all remain in action as effective tools to leverage global climate action and as models to inform future agreements” as Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations told the world at the conclusion of the Durban talks.
Reasons to celebrate the Durban Platform, agreed to by all nations. It provides:
1. For the first time, all 191 nations agree to be bound by the same rule. (The Kyoto Protocol covers only 40),
2. A real roadmap to a universal 2015 treaty with legal enforcement by 2020 (coincidentally the date for many greenhouse gas emission targets worldwide),
3. A lifeline for the faltering carbon markets of the European Trading Scheme (unnerved by the imminent end of Kyoto predicted before Durban),
4. The Clean Development Mechanism continues (key to third world and Desertec plans that have already begun, and one of the most useful of the policy tools reducing emissions) and will most likely be wrapped into the 2015 plan for all nations,
5. A way to funding for the Green Climate Fund (to help impoverished nations already struggling with climate change).
6. Allowing the inclusion of funding for carbon capture (means that polluters can invest in their carbon scrubbers and be reimbursed)
Read more on climate issues:
Durban May Agree on Green Climate Fund, Overriding US Republicans
Possible End of Kyoto at Durban Threatens MENA Renewable Investment
Bonn: The Latest Climate Talks and the Middle East